The Patna High Court on May 4 stayed the caste-based census in its interim order while hearing a petition challenging and seeking an interim stay on the caste survey in Bihar. The next hearing is scheduled on July 3.
A division bench of Chief Justice K V Chandran heard the petition filed by Akhilesh Kumar and others directing the government to immediately stop the caste-based survey and ensured that the data already collected are preserved and secured. The court also asked not to share the data with anybody till the final orders are passed.
Advocate Dinu Kumar, Ritu Raj and Abhinav Srivastava on behalf of the petitioners and Advocate General P K Shahi on behalf of the State presented the parties before the court.
Dinu Kumar told the court that the State government is misusing the contingency fund and the right to conduct surveys is beyond the jurisdiction of the State Government. Mr. Shahi on the other hand said that a survey is being conducted to make plans for public welfare and to improve the social level.
The first phase of the survey, which involved house listing exercise, was carried out from 7 January to 21 January and the second phase began on 15 April and was supposed to be concluded on 15 May.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit out at the Nitish Kumar government saying that it is a big failure as the government could not convince its decision in the court. BJP also demanded the resignation of Nitish Kumar.
“I have been saying this from day one that the Nitish Kumar government is a big failure and it is very sad that the government could not convince its decision in the court. Nitish Kumar must resign now because he is the person responsible for this. Nitish Kumar does not want to conduct the caste-based survey in Bihar and they put forward the weak side intentionally so that the court puts a stay order,“ said Bihar BJP state President Samrat Choudhary.
He also alleged that Nitish Kumar enjoyed doing ‘unconstitutional work’ and its outcome is visible today.
BJP MP and former state president of the party Sanjay Jaiswal said that Nitish Kumar has entered his name in the Guinness Book of World Records for losing a case in Patna High Court. Mr. Jaiswal stressed that so far Nitish Kumar government has not been able to convince the court in any case.
Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal (RLJD) president Upendra Kushwaha termed the court’s decision unfortunate and held Nitish Kumar responsible for it claiming that the State Government showed a non-serious approach towards the case-based survey.
“The state government should have made their point in the court with strong facts but they showed a lacklustre and non-serious attitude due to which they could not convince the court. The Nitish Kumar government did not take the legal matter seriously; the court order is a result of that non-seriousness. I have been telling this since the beginning that Mr. Nitish is not serious at all towards the Bihar affairs of work. He is roaming in other states to unite the opposition and has completely ignored its own state,“ Mr. Kushwaha said.
Reacting to the court’s order, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav said that it is just an interim order not the final order and the government will win the battle of case-based survey.
“The decision of caste-based survey was a unanimous decision of all parties in Bihar including BJP. If the BJP is saying that the Bihar government is not interested in it, why are they not conducting the caste-based survey in the BJP ruled state? Why did the central government reject the caste-based census? Let the BJP leaders be happy but we know that sooner or later we will win this battle as the option to appeal in the higher court is always open,” Mr. Tejashwi said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier in the day said, “I cannot understand why people have problems with the survey. The last time a headcount was done way back in 1931. We certainly have fresh estimates. After all, the census takes into account the respective population of minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes every ten years.”